First Drive: Arch’s New Cafe Racer-Inspired Bike Is a Chortling Brute That’s Light on Its Feet

A little over a decade ago, Keanu Reeves cofounded Arch Motorcycle with Gard Hollinger, a highly regarded bike builder who had previously made a one-off cruiser for the actor. The subsequent partnership resulted in the KRGT-1, a production model inspired by the original custom machine that Reeves had commissioned.

Arch’s sophomore effort, the 1s, elaborates on its predecessor’s muscular theme with a futuristic take on the café-racer-inspired aesthetic. The team accomplished this with creative elements such as the CNC-machined seat base, which is influenced by a ship’s hull. The structural component doubles as a piece of functional sculpture, as does the single-sided billet-aluminum swingarm. The new model also features sport-oriented ergonomics, a shorter wheelbase, a more steeply raked fork and mid-mounted controls.

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Though equipped with digital instrumentation, the two-wheeler is more traditional than its appearance suggests. The air-cooled 2,032 cc V-twin engine and a lack of traction control, for example, reflect Reeves’s adoration of all things analog and are an homage to bygone-era bikes. “There has always been a conscious decision to maintain a visceral riding experience,” says Hollinger when describing the new model’s ethos. But unlike old-school rides, the 1s has imposing proportions, a mammoth motor and a $128,000 price tag, which makes it an intimidating bit of kit to throw into corners.

The Arch 1s in Blue Carbon.
The Arch 1s in Blue Carbon.

Before you saddle up, Hollinger cautions that “over-riding it won’t pay off.” Instead, he suggests, “just think about what you want to do, and it will do it.” Swing a leg over the chortling brute and twist the throttle and the 1s responds with a daunting amount of coiled energy. As promised, the nearly 600-pound (wet weight) bike requires a somewhat zen-like mindset as well as a healthy respect for its dimensions when carving canyons. (Be sure the adjustable suspension isn’t dialed too tight for your weight; a little softness goes a long way toward making it friendlier in the turns.) Still, the carbon-fiber BST wheels make the lower half feel surprisingly nimble.

As if the 1s didn’t already stand out in a crowd, customers can spec their builds according to personal preference. “The idea is that the motorcycle fits you like a suit, with no two Arch motorcycles looking the same,” says Reeves. “So you have the reliability of a production motorcycle and a unique touch personalizing it and knowing it’s yours.”

In his famously humble fashion, Reeves credits Hollinger’s “creativity, attention to detail and vision” in executing their latest bike, while Hollinger admits to an even bigger motivation brought up at the outset of the project: “[Reeves] said, ‘We’re going to die,’ and I understood how he meant this was an opportunity for us to do something we’re both passionate about, and how we could leave behind something meaningful in the world.”

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